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Why the Lexus LFA Failed…Or Did It? | Bumper 2 Bumper

(car revving) – When the luxury arm of the world’s second
largest car manufacturer goes off to build their first super car, what do you get? Well, you get this. A Japanese engineering masterpiece, 10 years in the making. With only 500 of them rolling
off the assembly line. An exotic from the East, with arguably the best sounding engine to come out of a production car. A halo car that everyone wanted to like, but no one bought. So, why didn’t it work? Well friends, get ready
to laugh and learn. ‘Cause we’re going bumper
to bumper on the Lexus LFA. Jeremy Clarkson’s favorite car. He may or may not be my dad. (upbeat music) big thanks to our sponsor
this week, Raycon Earbuds. You know your boy loves
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and the best part is, Raycon E50’s are about half the price of other premium earbuds on the market. All that bumping for half the price? You can’t beat that. I fricken dare you dude. Help big bro out, support the
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get an additional 15% off your order of Raycon earbuds. They’re named E50, which is
also a model of BBS Wheel, that look very good. That I might put on that car. That’s how you can remember it. (upbeat music) First, let’s talk about
the concept of a halo car. No, not the Warthog you fricken nerds. A halo car is a reminder. It’s a car built by a brand to remind people what they’re all about. You build a halo car to create hype, and to bring in some new customers. A good example of a successful halo car would be the Audi R8. The LFA was Lexus’ halo car. Made not only to bring
some non-traditional eyes to other Lexus models, but also changed the way the company did things moving forward. (upbeat music) Before we can get into
the LFA, and I promise, we will get into it, I’ve
heard it’s hard to get into. We gotta talk about Lexus,
the luxury division of Toyota. Now back in the 80s, Toyota initiated the
Flagship One, or F1 project. Not to be confused with
Formula One racing. With no budget or time constraints, the F1 team went to work
on what would be the LS400. The LS laid the foundation for
the brand for years to come. Build a well engineered car, that wasn’t rushed into the showroom. Take your time, do it
right, it will pay off. So why am I bringing up the LS400? Well, the story of the
LFA parallels the story of the brand’s first luxury sedan. The process of building a super car would create a special sauce
that would trickle down the rest of the Toyota lineup. (wet squishy sound) The first car was
completed in June of 2003, but it wasn’t until 2005 that Lexus revealed the
first two concept cars. Two years later, the second
concept car showed up, and finally, in 2009, this
purdy thang you see before me was present by Akio Toyoda himself. The LFA. L for Lexus, F for Fugi Speedway, the racetrack that Lexus owned, that they developed the car on, and A for Apex, the tippy
top of the food chain. So what makes this car so special? And why didn’t it work? (upbeat music) The chassis of the LFA is carbon fiber, the body panels, you
guess it, carbon fiber. The hood? Well, that’s only made
out of carbon fiber. The steering wheel is
fricken carbon fiber, for goshdurn’s sake. I’m the carbon fiber Oprah over here. You get carbon fiber,
you get carbon fiber, you get carbon fiber,
everybody gets carbon fiber. But in the early 2000s, only a handful of sports cars were made with the space grade material. In fact, the chassis of the
LFA started off aluminum, but after a ton of testing, they decided to switch to carbon fiber. That’s four years of
development, and they were like, “Actually, you know what? “We should probably make the model car “out of carbon fiber now, it’s better.” Remember when I said that this
thing took 10 years to make? This is why. But remember, this is Lexus. Avoid compromises at all costs. Take your time. In true super car fashion, the car gets its array of scoops and vents to cool things down. The edges of the door mirrors
are even shaped to send air into these rear scoops, which then makes its way into
the rear mounted radiators. – Radiators. – [James] Out back, you get a wing, with a gurney flap that pops up when you hit 50 miles per hour. (car revving) I tried– ♪ Pop pop pop pop ♪ ♪ Pop up up and down gurney flaps ♪ It just doesn’t sound as good. (upbeat music) Remember that yummy trickle down sauce Lexus wanted from before? Well the RCF got some. We talked about these breaks
when we did a bumper to bumper on the RCF track edition. If you wanna geek out
with the sauce and myself, go check out that video after this one, I’ll out the link in
the description below. For now, let’s talk about the wheels. We can’t pull off these
20 inch BBS Wheels, to reveal the sweet suspension
goodies tucked underneath. Mounted up front is a
double wishbone set up and a multi link arrangement in the rear. (upbeat music) While Lexus is spending years on all this carbon fiber making and loom development, they’re also working on the
other piece of the LFA puzzle. The engine. Hey, I’m over here now. A V10, the size of a V8,
that weighs less than a V6, makes 553 horsepower, 354
pound feet of torques. The 4.8 liter naturally aspirated motor, vrooms the LFA from zero
to 60 in 3.6 seconds, and tops out at 202 miles per. With a 9000 rpm redline,
and a 9500 rpm fuel shutoff, just to keep things safe? Um, let’s just say it sounds pretty sick. (car revving) How does it rev that high? Well, it’s got forged
titanium connecting rods, aluminum pistons, solid titanium valves and magnesium alloy cylinder head covers. That’s a lot of very expensive,
very light weight metal. It’s an engine with an F1 pedigree. This car is capable of over
two lateral G’s in the corners. All while pressurized oil is making sure things get lubed up inside. If there’s one thing I know,
is that lube is important. (wet squishy sound) These grooves are brand new, and they’re in dire need of some lube. That’s from our new show, HiLow. We built two Z’s, and compared
cheap versus expensive parts. You can only watch it on that
other social media network, but it’ll be here pretty soon. The motor gets its oxygen supply through a dual stage
variable intake manifold. It then gets passed into 10
individual throttle bodies. Ah, no wonder it sounds so good before screaming out the
dual stage titanium muffler. Inside the intake system,
there’s a surge tank which further helps to give the LFA its sweet, sweet induction sound. The people tuning the sound? Engineers from Yamaha. In fact, the entire engine package itself, was co-developed by Yamaha. Now you might know Yamaha as the company that sells
God’s greatest gift to man, the Wave Runner. But, they started out as a
piano and reed organ company. They know how to make
instruments sound good. Mmk? And this engine was treated as just another instrument to them. And in true Lexus fashion, it was designed to enhance
the driving experience with sounds piped directly into the cabin. Let’s go see what the
cabin sounds like inside. I think it’s gonna be a
really nice audio experience. I’ll see you guys in there. (laughs) All of that air rushing in,
and the space grade metal, rotating around, puts out a sound that brings a tear to my eye. I’m not joking. It may be the best sounding car ever. Low liter, high cylinder
motors sound amazing, but this engine sounds especially unique. You get three channels of
sound coming into the cabin. The first is the main intake noise that comes from that tuned surge take that I mentioned before. It gets sent somewhere around here, right below the main dash panel. The other two channels are
in the upper cowl opening and the rear reflector. The upper cowl brings in
mid to high range tones. And the lower reflector pulls
in resonant engine sounds. All three of these channels combine to create a 3D surround sound concept. It’s the most analog thing
on the inside of this car. It’s not electronic. You can’t turn this sound
off or lower the volume. It’s pure, raw engine acoustics, and no other car sounds like it. Exhausts sounds you get
changes depending on the rpm. Below 3000, a dual stage exhaust valve remains closed to keep things quiet and upscale neighborhood friendly. But above this speed, a valve opens and the exhaust flows into a single resonator
out the tri-tip exhaust. (car revving) Shall we? (car starting) (car revving) (laughs) Good job Yamaha. Okay, let’s finish the video. The LFA is comfy, and you get bucket seats with eight way power adjustments. They’re sporty, and
they keep you locked in if you decide to take your
Japanese super car to the track. The seat belts have airbags
that inflate during a crash and spread the force of the impact across a wider portion of your chest. If the LFA had an earlier release, these might have been more of a big deal but in 2011, you can get
a Ford Explorer with ’em. Not trying to take anything
away from the Ford Explorer but, I’m guessing Lexus would’ve
liked to be the ones to debut such technology. The controls are simple but classy. The instrument cluster is really cool. Because the motor can
go from idle to redline in .6 seconds, they
couldn’t use an analog tech, it wouldn’t have been accurate, it couldn’t keep up with the engine. So, they designed their own digital one. Again, if the LFA were
released just a bit earlier, it would’ve been the craziest
(beep) to hit the market. This tech alone was a big deal, but today, again, it’s
seemingly commonplace. The steering wheel itself is
squared off at the bottom. I guess Lexus were thinking
about big boys like me, so I wouldn’t hit my knees. The paddle shifters don’t
move with the wheel. Some people like that, some people don’t, which is a nice segue into
how people really feel about the entire LFA package. It’s a mixed bag. (upbeat music) By the time the LFA finally
came to market in 2012, over a decade after its initial concept, the GTR, the ZR1, the Murciélago, and plenty of other fancy, fast cars had already been released. Effectively, stealing the
spotlight that Lexus hoped the LFA would bring to the company. The GTR, in particular,
really stole its thunder. It was a Japanese made sports car that was five times cheaper, and arguably, a better performing car. In the end, the LFA’s greatest ally ended up being its greatest enemy. Time. (sigh) whoa. And because it took so long, there were some things that
Lexus couldn’t go back on. Like the transmission, for example. It’s a six speed single clutch. It really needs a dual clutch. Things like that, coupled
with the fact that Lexus wouldn’t even allow you to
buy one outright at first, you could only lease them through Lexus. And even with only 500 of them made, dealerships didn’t sell out. It was bizarre. To top it off, the car wasn’t
even marketed all that well. I mean, unless you’re a car person, you probably don’t even remember the LFA, which totally defeats the
purpose of a halo car. One thing though, that
the LFA did do right, and like the LS before it, was change the way the brand
built cars moving forward. This is the car that
started the manta ray look that so many Lexus’ have today. Look at the LC500. It’s clear that that car has
LFA secret sauce all over it. Soon enough, you’ll start
seeing production cars with carbon fiber frames,
inflatable seat belts, and, fingers crossed, more
V10’s rolling out of Japan by the thousands. And we’ll thank the LFA for that. And we’ll thank our buddy, Brian, for bringing his LFA down
to shoot with us today. Follow him on Instagram, @briangoldphd, follow us @donutmedia,
follow @ovcmustangs. They hosted us again in their sick garage. They’re building some
really really cool stuff. You can also check them
out at I love you. (upbeat music)

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